August 23th, 2021
The first thing I did when I jumped out of bed was putting on my gym clothes. There was no possibility of not doing physical activity that Monday. The past few weeks were super busy and at best I was exercising 2 times every 7 days. So I already started the week determined to adjust my routine. From then on, I would exercise at least five times a week.
I planned on just going through a few emails before to going out to exercise, and when I looked outside, the day was over. I was so upset for not keeping a commitment to myself, so I decided to challenge myself: from the next day, I would do 100 days of physical activity without interruption. One of the great advantages of maturity is self-knowledge. Knowing how we work is already halfway there for the business to work.
A study at Duke University revealed that habits account for approximately 40% of our daily attitudes. If we don't create good habits, nearly half of our days are unproductive.
My goal was to turn physical activity into habit. Only in this way could I not only guarantee the fulfillment of my agreement, but also definitively incorporate this activity into my routine. After all, our bodies mainly need movement as we age. I have a very clear goal in my life which is to remain independent and full of energy as long as I am alive. It's no use having a long life without health. I already want to start the 2nd half of my life (in January, 50 years old) with this habit created.
The benefits of having an exercise routine are numerous, both physically, mentally and emotionally. When we exercise frequently, we reduce the chances of having cardiovascular disease, chronic diseases (diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure) and stress. Furthermore, our mood, our self-confidence, and the quality of our sleep improve a lot. And all of these factors directly impact our lives and our relationships, whether personal or professional.
I started by advertising on my Instagram profile (I explained my motivations and goals) and inviting people to come along with me. Making a commitment publicly helps us stay committed. In addition, there are people who often do not leave their place for lack of company and the digital provides that. Other people can exercise and just exchanging information is an incentive.
In the first two weeks, to condition myself, I decided to walk down the street. A minimum of 3.2 miles a day, at a fast pace. As I love music, I soon created a playlist. I often preferred to listen to a podcast, an audio book or watch a video. And at the end of each activity, I posted my results on my Instagram stories.
The first few days are always a joy. People are seeing your movement and are starting to interact and get excited. Immediately you already want to improve your diet and think twice before “eating junk food”. In fact, one habit leads to another, and physical exercise immediately leads to eating. As my diet is healthy, I only made small adjustments, thinking of having better results (PS: in the middle of the challenge, I thought I was overdoing chocolate and I did a Detox for 30 days). Although my goal is not directly related to weight loss, this would be a very welcome consequence!
As the days went by, I incorporated new activities. Many of them, I did it at home (at least 30 minutes of exercise). You can find a lot of quality and free content on YouTube. In addition, at the invitation of a friend, I joined a group of women who exercised 2-3 times a week. In the first few days I almost died, as my conditioning level was much lower than theirs. But at the end of the first month, I had evolved a lot and our level was already very similar.
But not everything is perfect! Traveling and having to exercise is not easy. What did I do? I took my sneakers, 2 workout clothes and alternated. When the hotel had a gym, I exercised before going out. When it didn’t, YouTube again. As I love walking to explore places when I travel, I would put on my sneakers and go on a long exploring walk (always more than 10 km/day, at an exercise pace). And when it was late at night and I still hadn't exercised? I ran on the treadmill at home (I went back to running after almost a year out of work due to a lower back injury from running), I did spinning (also at home) or functional exercises. The important thing was to do. My brain and my body needed to understand that I wouldn't have a way to do it.
I confess that not seeing the weight going down over time was discouraging. My body was feeling different, more toned, stronger and I felt much more resistant, but the scale remained the same. Until after the first 60 days. One fine day, I was 6.5 pounds thinner! We love to see that, right?
One really cool thing that happened was that I participated in a 5km race with the women's group. I swore that after my back injury in 2020, I would never run again. Also because I have some hernias in my lumbar and cervical, and tendinitis in my hip. The feeling of earning a small victory was really good! After that test, I started running again at least once a week.
Better than that, just the result of my blood test. My cholesterol and triglycerides levels went down! My doctor wanted me to take medication and I refused, as I said that the change I would make in my routine would bring me the result I wanted. And I was right!
During those 100 days, I caught a virus and on one of the days I got really sick. I spent the day practically in bed. That was the only day I allowed myself to do nothing. I needed to respect my body. But the next day, still feeling really bad, I went for a walk.
The day the 100 Day Challenge ended, it was a relief! I couldn't wait to stop for a day, not owing anything. But the next day I woke up thinking "since I didn't exercise yesterday, today I have to." This was the result I wanted when I started. Create the habit.
If I could give you some advice, it would be “Start today”, within the conditions you have and keep evolving. And look for activities that give you pleasure. This will make your life easier. Zumba was my greatest companion during those 100 days.
I'm going to Brazil on vacation and my sneakers and workout clothes are guaranteed space in my suitcase. I'm already thinking about the 2022 Physical Activity Challenge.
And you, when did you last challenge yourself?